This used to be called the UKCAT so you might hear that term floated around (although the format hasn't really changed)
What is it?
The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) is a test required by most UK medical and dental schools. It's taken online at a registered test centre (usually the same place you take your driving theory test!)
2 hour computer based assessment which tests a range of mental abilities considered important by University medical and dental schools. There are 5 separate components in multiple-choice format and these are:
Do I have to register?
Yes, you will have to register to take the test. Registration usually opens in early July and once you have registered you should be able to book a test. There are bursary schemes available if you require financial assistance with the test fee.
Registration closing dates are usually released on the website (check online for the latest updates!)
When should I take the test?
You can sit your test any time from August to late November the year of your application. Once you have registered, you choose the date and time of your test with the online booking system and which test centre you would prefer (subject to availability).
Personally, I would recommend booking it sooner rather than later! Obviously, give yourself adequate time to prepare but if you plan ahead you can save yourself the stress of worrying about UCAT over the Summer and focus on your personal statement/other aspects of your application at the time of the new academic year in September. You will be incredibly busy when you return to your studies in September and it might be nice to get UCAT ticked off! It's also useful to know your UCAT score when making your decisions about which medical schools you will apply to. Some schools have certain thresholds or place greater weight on UCAt score than others so give yourself plenty of time to do your research and play to your strengths!
It's not the end of the world if your'e not really pleased with your UCAT score- there are some medical schools which don't consider UCAT to be a large part of the application process so it's worth checking out the individual assessment criteria for each medical school to see where the weight of assessment lies.
When will I get my results?
You will get your results when you leave the test centre in a printed report. You get a score for each section (except for situational judgement which is given a band from 1 to 4).
You do not need to pass these results to the universities you apply to yourself or even to UCAS, the results will passed automatically onto your chosen institutions directly by. the testing body.
How do I prepare?
There are so many great resources for UCAT practice. You should definitely get familiar with the test format and style of questions. prior to takin the test.
Abstract reasoning and decision making particularly can be quite alien the first time you encounter them but even a little bit of prior preparation will go a long way to help familiarise you with the question style and help you to develop an effective strategy for tackling each different question type.
Medify run great packages online which help you get to grips with the test layout. There are tonnes of practice questions very similar in style to those you might see in the real test although you will be required to pay a subscription fee.
There are also loads of books you can buy online with lots of practice questions. I would personally recommend Get into medical School 1250 UKCAT book (there were so many practice questions to try I didn't make it though them all)! You don't need to go crazy and buy loads of books, chances are you won't be able to get through all the material. Ask your school, friends and family if they know anyone who has old practice books as this can save you a lot of money and the format has barely changed for quite a few years so even older resources will be very helpful.
Some companies run workshops and study days with the aim of teaching you key the skills and practice materials for the test. These are often quite expensive but by no means a necessity! You may find some focused revision time will help you to guide your preparation for the test but access to some good practice books/online resources should be adequate alone to prepare you well enough for your test.
There are a limited number of free practice tests on the UCAT website which are also definitely worth checking out and will give you an idea of how your test will look like on the day!
practice using the online calculator for quantitative reasoning
practice flagging questions to come back to them
develop a strategy for approaching abstract reasoning questions (some people develop pneumonics to help them remember key characteristics to look out for)
practice with others! It makes it more fun and chances are you'll learn a lot from how others approach questions
do practice questions to time (the time element is very tricky and the more practice you get under time pressure the better!)